As a professional goal, networking is not always top of mind for nurses. For those who invest the time and energy, however, it offers many advantages and benefits. From discovering job referrals and leads to tapping into deeper levels of knowledge and emotional support, networking can influence the trajectory of your entire nursing career.

Why Is Networking Important?

The primary purpose of networking is for nurses to connect with others in the industry. This facilitates information-sharing and the establishment of support systems. It offers immediate and long-term benefits, which tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Social-emotional benefits: Networking provides social outlets to connect with others in similar circumstances. The struggles of shiftwork or ambitions to become a nurse manager are common themes. Networking strengthens the sense of camaraderie, boosts confidence and morale, and helps establish support systems.
  2. Educational benefits: Networking helps expand access to industry news and educational content, allowing you to stay current on everything from emerging treatment guidelines and legislative changes to certification requirements and self-care strategies. It provides an outlet for you to share your knowledge with others and vice versa.
  3. Vocational benefits: Beyond the career-enhancing benefits of improved social-emotional support and ongoing access to educational topics, networking provides career advancement opportunities too. Your increased contact with others in the industry, which will likely include key hiring personnel and decision-makers at some point, keeps you top of mind for potential job openings. It may also help you explore your interests further, identify new career pathways and find ways to become more involved in your current role.

How Can Nurses Network?

Nurse networking opportunities are abundant and may occur in person and online, with the latter growing substantially over the past decade. Regardless of where you are in your career or educational endeavors, the following avenues offer inexpensive and accessible ways to network.

Co-workers. Consider possible connections you can make in your current job or workplace. This can be as simple as starting a conversation with colleagues over lunch or volunteering for a nursing safety committee.

Associations or industry groups. With dozens of state- and interest-based organizations to choose from, you are likely to find a professional membership group that fits your needs. National groups like the American Nurses Association are also good at providing professional support. All of these organizations typically have meetings, send out updates on licensing and legislative changes, post job leads and provide a mix of virtual and face-to-face networking and educational opportunities.

Conferences and webinars. You can meet like-minded nurses and healthcare providers at these events. While an in-person event seems like the best choice for introducing yourself to others, do not underestimate the interactive potential of webinars. There are typically opportunities to submit questions, chat live and exchange information with attendees.

Classmates. If you are enrolled in a degree program, make an effort to get to know your classmates. Online students who feel tempted to bypass this step end up depriving themselves of the benefits of building these relationships. The connections you make with classmates early in your career — during an online RN to BSN program, for example — can extend years beyond graduation. Use email and the school’s discussion forums to exchange contact information, support one another, form study groups and share job leads.

Websites and social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all established platforms offering a simple way to connect with colleagues and acquaintances, while staying up to date on industry happenings. Sites, like AllNurses, post job listings and encourage both students and RNs to network in their online forums.

Networking is often overlooked and undervalued by nurses. However, it can provide substantial job-finding and career advancement benefits as well as an emotional support system. With in-person and virtual options, the opportunities to connect are abundant.

Learn more about EMU’s online RN to BSN program.

Sources: Nurses

American Nurses Association: Professional Networking for Nurses

Nurse Journal: Professional Networking in Nursing List of Nursing Organizations